Ramaphosa’s leadership during this period has been a breath of fresh air
THE government’s drastic steps announced on Monday evening to curb the spread of Covid-19 are unprecedented.
Not since the 1985-1986 State of Emergency have South Africans been subjected to levels of restrictions such as those announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa.
For the next 21 days South Africans, except for those providing essential services, will be restricted to their homes.
This comes as the spread of Covid-19 has been so dramatic – 55300% since the first reported case on March5 – that the government was left with very few options to contain the pandemic.
As Ramaphosa and several other health experts had mentioned before, inaction was simply not an option, because South Africa’s disease burden (HIV and TB) means that the poor are particularly vulnerable to something as virulent as Covid-19, due to their already depressed immune systems.
Most South Africans have welcomed the steps to place the country on lockdown, although small businesses that will be most affected by the steps are holding out for answers to see how a small business relief fund, announced by Ramaphosa, will come to their aid.
Ramaphosa, in his speech, announced that businessmen Johann Rupert and Nicky Oppenheimer had each contributed R1billion to the fund.
The rapid spread of the virus would also have exposed the ANC’s failures at all three levels of government. South Africa’s health systems, both public and private, simply cannot accommodate a pandemic like that which has brought devastation to developed countries like Italy and Spain.
For this reason, Ramaphosa’s leadership during this period has been a breath of fresh air. He has consulted widely and acted decisively, armed with information and the buy-in of all role-players.
But, as in all cases, there have also been opportunists, from within his own ranks, hoping to score political points from the pandemic by promising false cures.
If and when South Africa returns to normal on April16, we will be a different country.
Ramaphosa’s resolve to fight Covid-19 will have to be replicated in other areas, like the fight against corruption, and the management of state-owned enterprises, which are a major drain on our collective finances.